Digging up the Scottish Family Tree

Trip Start Oct 29, 2012
Trip End Nov 27, 2012

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Flag of United Kingdom  , Scotland,
Wednesday, October 31, 2012

We left Liverpool for Scotland with two things:
1. Great memories of Liverpool; and
2. Michelle with a cold.

The severe icy blast that hit the city proved too much for Michelle's neck (pre-new scarf). Nonetheless we pushed onto Lime Street Station and boarded the 2,5 hour train journey to Edinburgh. The rail system works great and the novelty of moving through the countryside at break neck speed munching sandwiches and trying to take photos is lots of fun.

We had to change trains at Wigan on our way up north. An hour stopover allowed us to grab some food and a very welcomed hot cup of tea. One of the joys (and frustrations) of travelling throughout the UK is the change in accents. Wigan was no exception, yet completely different to Liverpool. It really required our full attention to listen and try to understand. The public announcements at the train station were useless as we couldn't understand a word; and this is supposedly in English!

Our travels to Scotland took us through the beautiful and stunning Lake District. Huge mountains, sweeping valleys and magical colours of autumn throughout. It is no wonder it is one of the most visited areas of the UK with 15 million people coming to the area each year.

We finally make it into Edinburgh on a cold and wet afternoon. At the train station, our challenge. Is to get to the other platform, with suitcases, to pick-up our hire car. Challenged accepted and some time later challenged achieved, albeit both wetter for the experience. At this stage, Michelle's immune system is being sorely tested!

The drive out of Edinburgh to head north was a challenge. Not only had I not driven a manual car since 1984, but not driven in peak hour Edinburgh traffic - not a very smart combination. Anyhow, 45 minutes later we get out the one way streets and small lane ways to make it to the majestic Firth of Forth bridge. An engineering miracle, this massive bridge provides a gateway from Edinburgh to the north of Scotland. Once over the bridge, we continue on, only to realise that every thing is in miles per hour (wondered why every distance sign post seemed to lie to us?!?).

We get off the freeway and detour through the small towns and valleys which becomes the highlight of the drive. Little villages that pop up out of nowhere and ancient bridges that allow for one car at a time, make it a photographer's delight.

At 4:30pm with the sun long gone and the cold and damp setting in we make it to our destination: Auchterarder. A small town in the heart of midland Scotland within the Kingdom of Perth. Auchterarder is the home of my ancestors for the past 500 years; at least that is as far back as I have got to from my research over the past 20 years. The village is effectively one street. It is fairly vibrant and has a multitude for eateries etc. After checking into our Bed & Breakfast, we have dinner over the road at a beautiful old restaurant and feast on prawns, lamb and creme brule. Delicious!!

An early night is called for two weary travellers after a day of freezing weather, madcap driving and strange accents. Great to finally be here but at the same time happy they all made the move many years ago to head Down Under.

Goodnight to all. M&M

Day 2 in Scotland

We head off from Auchterarder with the best breakfast and hot chocolate one could have. Stirling first, to see the great Stirling Castle atop Castle Hill. The majestic castle was built during the 14-16th centuries as a home and place were Scottish Kings and Queens were crowned: including Mary Queen of Scots. Robert the Bruce's statue overlooks the entrance to the castle and provided us with some great pictures.

Heading down the road to Bannockburn, we 'finally' locate the marvelous Robert the Bruce statue atop his horse. Bannockburn was the site of the great victory over Edward II's English Army.

Driving back to Edinburgh we had successfully navigated central Scotland and managed to operate a manual car to boot! Amid the one way streets and detours in and around the city, the drive was a great way to see the country off the usual tourist trail.

See ye efter!
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